Ratchet definitions

răch'ĭt
The definition of a ratchet is a tool with a wheel and gripped interior that turns in one direction.

An example of a ratchet is the tool used to tighten a nut.

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To ratchet is defined as to move something up or down in small amounts.

An example of ratchet is to slowly increase the pressure on a witness; ratchet up the pressure.

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A mechanism consisting of a pawl that engages the sloping teeth of a wheel or bar, permitting motion in one direction only.
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The pawl, wheel, or bar of this mechanism.
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To cause to increase or decrease by increments.

Tried to ratchet up interest in the program.

verb
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To increase or decrease by increments.
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A toothed wheel (in full ratchet wheel) or bar whose teeth slope in one direction so as to catch and hold a pawl, which thus prevents backward movement.
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Such a pawl.
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Such a wheel (or bar) and pawl as a unit: used in some wrenches, screwdrivers, etc. to allow motion in only one direction.
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To (cause to) change in increments.

To ratchet up interest rates.

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A pawl, click, or detent for holding or propelling a ratchet wheel, or ratch, etc.
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A mechanism composed of a ratchet wheel, or ratch and pawl.
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A ratchet wrench.
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(analogous) A procedure or regulation that goes in one direction, usually up.
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To cause to become incremented or decremented.

It's time to ratchet up the intensity level here.

verb
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(intransitive) To increment or decrement.
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(US, slang) Ghetto (unseemly and indecorous)
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Origin of ratchet

French rochet from Old French rocquet head of a lance (from the shape of the teeth) of Germanic origin